- The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.
in 1863, when first in power
A. J. P. Taylor Bismarck (1955) ch. 7
- Politics is the art of the possible.
- We will not go to Canossa.
during his quarrel with Pope Pius IX regarding papal authority over German subjects, in allusion to the Emperor Henry IV's submission to Pope Gregory VII at Canossa in Modena in 1077
speech to the Reichstag, 14 May 1872
- Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong, [it is] a geographical concept.
marginal note on a letter from the Russian Chancellor Gorchakov, November 1876; see Metternich
- Not worth the healthy bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.
of possible German involvement in the Balkans; see Harris
speech to the Reichstag, 5 December 1876
- I do not regard the procuring of peace as a matter in which we should play the role of arbiter between different opinions…more that of an honest broker who really wants to press the business forward.
speech to the Reichstag, 19 February 1878
- This policy cannot succeed through speeches, and shooting-matches, and songs; it can only be carried out through blood and iron.
speech in the Prussian House of Deputies, 28 January 1886
- Your map of Africa is all very fine, but my map of Africa lies in Europe. Here is Russia and here is France, and we are in the middle; that is my map of Africa.
on colonial policy
to Eugen Wolf, 5 December 1888
- If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans.
attributed by Herr Ballen and quoted by Winston S. Churchill
in the House of Commons, 16 August 1945
- A statesman…must wait until he hears the steps of God sounding through events; then leap up and grasp the hem of his garment.
A. J. P. Taylor Bismarck (1955)
- The weak are strong because they are reckless. The strong are weak because they have scruples.
quoted by Henry Kissinger to James Callaghan, 1975; James Callaghan Time and Chance (1987)
- When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of putting it into practice.
- A lath of wood painted to look like iron.
of Lord Salisbury
attributed, but vigorously denied by Sidney Whitman in Personal Reminiscences of Prince Bismarck (1902)
- Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made.
attributed, but not traced and probably apocryphal